I snapped this shot yesterday near Waseda Station in central Tokyo. It was a good day with a nice blue sky offsetting a carp streamer beign flown atop a builidng in celebration of Children's Day ("kodomo no hi," formerly known just as Boys' Day). I think the family flying this streamer is jumping the gun a little as Children's Day is still more than a week away, during the Golden Week annual Spring holiday. April 29th, a Monday this year, is the annual holiday in membory of the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, postumously known as Emperor Showa, or "showa tenno." ("Tenno" means Emperor in Japanese, and "Showa" was the name of Emperor Hirohito's riegn. By comparison the current emperor, Akihito, is known as Heisei Tenno, or Emperor Heisei, after the name of his reign. Surprinsingly, very few young people know the current emperor's actual name. They simply know his as "Emperor.")
The first carp of the streamer represents the two parents of the family. Then each successive carp represents one son. The largest for the eldest son, and then decreasing sizes for the decrease in ages of other male siblings. So if you see a streamer like this with four carp, it means three sons in the family. Girls are not commemorated with carp because daughters are celebrated in early March on Hina Doll Festival, "Hina mastsuri."
I bought some pretty carp streamers at a dollar store and will take them back to Canada for display there: a neat cultural artifact. Maybe I will go back and buy a few more, and use them as gifts during my summer vacation.